ABC's The Conners has officially started production on Season 3, but things are going to be a little different. As the cast heads back to work to start filming later this week, they will be doing so without a studio audience due to the coronavirus pandemic and the safety precautions it has prompted in Hollywood.
The lack of an in-studio audience comes as producers enforce "extremely rigorous safety and health protocols," a network insider confirmed to TVLine. These protocols align with state and local requirements as well as union and industry guidelines for production. A previous report from the outlet shortly after L.A. County issued its "Reopening Protocol for Music, Television and Film Production" noted that studio audiences could include paid staff, who would have to be seated at least six feet apart and wear face coverings. According to the guidelines, audiences would have to be limited to 100 people or 25% of the maximum occupancy of the space, or whichever is smaller.
At this time, details of the upcoming season remain sparse, though the beloved sitcom, a spinoff of Roseanne, will be heavily influenced by the pandemic in more ways than just its effect on production. In May, just ahead of the Season 2 finale, executive producers Bruce Helford, Bruce Rasmussen, and Dave Caplan revealed that the pandemic would be "woven" into the Season 3 storyline.
"We'll absolutely be dealing with it," Helford told TVLine. "We're a show that reflects reality, so we're obligated [to address it]. I would think somebody in the family would be taking the jobs no one else wants, [like] working in grocery stores. They'd be taking jobs that put them at risk because they need the money, like most of blue-collar America."
Rasmussen added that the season would show the real-life affects the pandemic and the corresponding lockdowns have had on businesses. He explained that the Lunch Box, the family's restaurant, would be impacted. He also teased that Dan "may be getting some mortgage forgiveness" on his already-late payments.
Season 3 of The Conners does not yet have a premiere date, though it is confirmed to be moving from its typical Tuesday timeslot to Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC. The series stars John Goodman, Lecy Goranson, Sara Gilbert, Rene Rosado, Jay R. Ferguson, and Katey Sagal. Stay tuned to PopCulture.com for the latest information.